It's just taken me 4 hours and fifty five minutes to drive the 125 miles from Weston-Super-Mare to London and I am rigid with clutch foot and nervous exhaustion! I suspect none of our problems would have happened had I not missed the turn from the M5 onto the M4 and blithely charged 25 miles towards the midlands without even noticing! We decided to remedy the situation by taking a cross country route through places like Cirencester and Stroud and back to the M4, but, despite travelling through absolutely stunning scenery, which I'm really pleased to have seen, my little lapse of concentration must have added forty minutes to the journey.
Stroud brought back a very specific childhood memory; that of driving home from a family holiday on the high street of the town and the boot of our car flying open and scattering our dirty laundry and suitcases all over the main road! I remember my mother rushing about with a load of passers by picking up old knickers and toothbrushes, whilst my brother wept in the back of the car, repeatedly telling us all that the holiday had been ruined!
Still, how about the scenery around Cirencester? How beautiful are those hills and mills?
We joined the M4 and rapidly hit the mother of all traffic jams, caused by an accident near Reading which I later learned was so serious that an air ambulance had to be called. The jury is out as to whether we'd have avoided the crash had I not made the wrong turn or, heaven forbid, hit the very spot where it happened just as it happened... There but for the grace of God go we all!
You do sometimes see the most wonderful things in times of crisis, however. At one point in the jam, when all vehicles were at a complete standstill, a young woman exited her car and rushed over to a lorry driver in an adjacent lane with a slice of lemon cake! He'd obviously seen her eating it, pulled a sad face or something, and she'd decided he ought to try a piece. It was a wonderful little moment.
This morning we walked along the sea front in Weston-Super-Mare. It's a very lovely little seaside town, which isn't at all as down-at-heel as you might expect. The only troubling aspect of the day was the sheer number of UKIP posters in people's windows down there. One of the penthouse flats on the esplanade took advantage of its elevated position and was displaying three enormous billboards, which I found both tasteless and terrifying.
We stopped in a little cafe overlooking the marina, where David had a black coffee with a dash of brandy, which smelt absolutely divine. I like neither coffee nor brandy, so knew I would hate the taste of it, but it did smell rather lovely...